#Featured

Sugar & Spice by Sarah Sanders

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ This one is super short, super cute and super hot. Princess Aurora has just been formally made the Crown Princess of her c...

Her Forever: Lix 3 by Emily Hayes

 

⭐⭐★

Review-lite

…because…*shrug* 🤷


  • Lauren, the bouncy, super-enthusiastic and unbelievable thirty-something reaches the peak of her journey to becoming a submissive in this one with a ‘collaring ceremony’
  • We’re not super-convinced about the whole dome-sub dynamic being ‘equal’ despite the best efforts by the author to convince the reader about this
  • Find the relationship particularly imbalanced because more than once Quinn says that as the domme she got to ‘help’ (or actually write) what Lauren will say in the collaring ceremony, which is positioned as equivalent to a marriage in the kinky world
  • Better dialogue than in the previous two parts but still quite unnatural
  • Unbelievable conversations between Lauren and her friends
  • The relationship between Lauren and Quinn also seems strangely wooden and stilted
  • Heads-up: much less sex in this one than expected from Hayes (but then, Lix 2 has a surfeit of sex)

⭐⭐★

Must Love Silence by Lucy Bexley

 

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Misanthropic Reese Walker hasn’t left her apartment for 272 days. Her job as an audio book narrator of lesbian romances (mostly) allows her to work from home and that suits her just fine. Her biggest problem is her aggressively nice and kind neighbour, Judith. Her entire social life consists of her sister, lo, who is currently in rehab for alcoholism, and an old friend, David. 

When she is forced to answer an unexpected and unwelcome knock on her door, she receives a bill from the rehab of a large amount of money. Fiercely protective, Reese knows she needs to somehow raise the money for Lo. Via David she receives and offer to read a book that may just help her earn the required money. The catch is that she needs to leave her house and record it in a studio in New York under the supervision of the author, Arden Abbot.

Hot, sexy, successful Arden turns out to be something of a micromanager picking on Reese’s pronunciations of words like ‘Sarah’ and ‘and’. Reese is neither happy with Arden’s ‘helpful’ suggestions nor with the fact that Arden is impossibly sweet and attractive. Reese mentally rages against Arden till she realises that Arden is fighting battles of her own. 

The story is narrated entirely from Reese’s point of view so we are privy to all her thoughts, feelings and emotions. She is not awfully likeable or dislikeable. Mainly, she is funny in her extreme reactions to ‘people’ and ‘outside’. At some point, we also realise that besides being misanthropic, Reese is also an introvert and cannot handle being around people too much. 

Arden is a lovely, lovely lady. In fact, the whole relationship growth between Arden and Reese is skewed in the beginning with Arden making all the effort in both, their professional and personal interactions. 

These are two women dealing with their own demons and trying to handle their own imperfections while making the effort to grow and let another person in. That is so heartwarming. We loved that the conflict is totally organic and completely in keeping with the characterisations. It is a situation where, very interestingly, both are right in their actions and expectations and both are wrong in dealing with the other.  

But what really makes this book a highly engaging read is the humour. The writing is awesome (though there are a few regrettable typos – but nothing too bad). 

This one is a perfectly lovely read with a cast full of likeable characters.

⭐⭐⭐⭐



Mutual Benefits by HP Munroe

 

⭐⭐⭐⭐★


Hannah Melville has always felt like the odd one out in her family. While the rest of her family (parents, twin siblings – sister and brother) are all into science one way or another, Hannah is a dress designer. She is successful enough but still feels defensive. As the oldest child, she’s also been something of a conformist and is chafing a bit under always being responsible and predictable. At a family dinner with her parents, when her mother turns the conversation towards Hannah’s love life – again, she decides rock the boat and announces she is gay. Only, instead of the shock and negative reaction that she anticipated her parents celebrate her “coming out” saying they suspected it all along. And the next thing Hannah knows is that her mother has set her up on a blind date – with a woman. 

Ashley West is a firefighter – a hot firefighter. She is out but not interested in a relationship. She’s been rather badly burnt by a relationship in the past with a girl who claimed to be straight but also insisted she loved Ashley. The ex could never come to terms with her own sexuality and Ashley suffered greatly in the situation. Now Ashley is not ready for a relationship and definitely more than a little leery about having anything to do with straight girls and their experimentation. 

But Hannah is the exact opposite of Ashley’s ex. Ashley’s ex claimed to be straight while having an affair with Ashley and Hannah is out as gay to the world and insists she is straight in private.

To keep their mothers of their backs, Hannah and Ashley agree to pretend to be in a relationship for the world.

Hannah and Ashley are both extremely appealing. The dialogue is sharp and the relationship is really sweet. Munroe takes time in developing the relationship over a period of time and offers plenty of insight into both, Hannah’s and Ashley’s minds and emotions. We loved their interaction, their banter, their caring for each other and the whole relationship.

The secondary characters provide excellent context and are all extremely likeable. We loved the little scene where Hannah’s best friend points out that Hannah hasn’t really been seeing or appreciating the support she receives from her parents and sister because she is so busy feeling like she doesn’t belong. This is absolutely true – completely missing out what is there because you’ve decided something and colour everything with the strokes of that prejudice. 

This is a delightful romcom with great humour and a decent dose of emotions in which everything (including justifiable not-forced-or-drawn-out conflict) just right. 

⭐⭐⭐⭐★




Now and Again by Natasha West

 

⭐⭐⭐☆

This is a second chances book but not entirely, because the first time around, the relationship was abbreviated and nixed before it could develop. 

Juliet Sullivan is a nanny. She works with wealthy families looking after their kids with immense love and patience – because Juliet loves kids and she loves her job. When her current employer gets a promotion at work and is scheduled to move to Canada, Juliet finds a new job in the Powell household consisting of an irritable man of the house, a harassed and harried mom, an unmanageable little girl – and Riley Powell.

Riley and Juliet were together in high school where Riley was the all-round popular girl, who was also a good person and did well in her studies, while Juliet was the outcast (because she wasn’t as rich as the others). Riley’s best friend India particularly delighted in picking on Juliet. Despite their differences, Riley and Juliet shared one kiss and that could’ve developed further given that they both were crushing on the other. But India’s machinations ended that possibility. 

Now, Riley had been evicted from the rental house she was living in and is crashing at her father’s with his second family. Riley has no love lost for her dad and can’t wait to get away. When Juliet is added into the mix, things get more complicated because both women still harbour feelings for each other. 

Riley and Juliet are both very appealing women and the attraction that they feel for the other is inescapable. West writes good background about them both and explores their thoughts enough to make their actions understandable. This story is entirely built on non-communication, mis-communication and jumping to conclusions, which is somehow made understandable from the characters’ points of view. We admit that we feel more sorry for than angry with the bad guy, India, because all her actions arise from her own struggles.

This is meant to be a light entertainer and does that job really well. Particularly the scene towards the end where all Powells descend on Juliet. That was pure romcom climax which was thoroughly enjoyable. 

This one is quite a good read. 

⭐⭐⭐☆

Succulents and Spells by Andi C. Buchanan

 

⭐⭐⭐

Laurel Windflower comes from a family of witches but so far her real powers evade her. Sure, she can cook up some potions and stuff but feels rather like her life is going nowhere. 

Marigold Nightfield arrives in Laurels life seeking information about a monster living in Laurel’s house. A mostly benign monster. Marigold is a scientist doing research on monsters. Marigold’s family had magic but she has none. 

During Laurel’s first visit to Marigold’s mansion she is almost knocked over by the presence of some hidden magic. The two women set out to find what secrets are hidden in the house and end up discovering much more than expected. 

This is a rather sweet book. Well written. Two likeable MCs. A rather involved magical realm. Nice chemistry between the mains. We really liked Marigold’s self-awareness and self-acceptance, and we liked everything about Laurel. 

It does take some time to get into the world and complexities that are created in the book, but that’s part of its interestingness. The book doesn’t end with a cliff hanger but there is definitely promise of more to come (hopefully because there is so much more to be explored yet).

A nice enough read.

⭐⭐⭐

The Lesbian Billionaires Last Hope by KC Luck

 

⭐⭐⭐

Review-lite

…because…the next predictable instalment of the predictable stories in the series

  • Unimaginably rich, closeted women from across the world form a closed association: The Lesbian Billionaires Club 
  • Extremely predictable (slim) stories of each billionaire told with heavy-handed tediousness
  • To be fair, this one has more of a storyline than the two preceding it
  • Lots of sex – these books are all erotic romances
  • Hope is rather likeable
  • These billionaires have absolutely suck-y security – all of them in all the books
  • The next one promises to be one starring socially awkward billionaire, Kris, and billionaire arch-villain, Georgia DeLane who is almost a cartoonish caricature, but still our favourite character in this series  

⭐⭐⭐

The Setup by T. B. Markinson

 

⭐⭐⭐☆

Review-lite

…because…not a lot of story in this one


  • The whole story happens in one single day that the two mains are ‘setup’ by a mutual friend 
  • Good dialogue
  • Markinson manages to give enough background about both leads (especially Imogen)
  • The day seemed just too long – and for just one day (or less) it felt too much emotionally and the sheer number of incident-wise 
  • This one could’ve well been spread over a few days and been called a novel instead of a novella
  • Once again – great dialogue

⭐⭐⭐☆

Twice Shy by Aurora Rey, Narrated by Keira Grace (Audiobook)

 

⭐⭐⭐★

Amanda Russo, owner of Bake My Day, is a successful businesswoman on her way to expanding her popular bakery. She’d just bought the space next door and meets with the architect, Quinn Sullivan, to discuss her vision. 


Amanda and Quinn are both divorced women. Amanda’s ex, Mel, cheated on her and left her and their two kids (now teenagers). Ditto Quinn. Neither of them is particularly looking to get into another relationship despites friends and family egging them to at least date and put themselves out there, maybe just a little. 


On an overnight visit to see her daughter’s recital, Amanda ends up sleeping with Mel, who is in the process of ending things with her new wife (because new wife wants kids and Mel doesn’t). And then they sleep together again. And then the fix up a date for which Mel doesn’t turn up. 


Quinn is attracted to Amanda right away but being somewhat shy and insecure doesn’t particularly do anything about it. But soon they do end up spending time together and their relationship develops. 


So, the synopsis is sketchy considering that there is a lot of presence of Amanda’s children and Mel in this book. Also, the relationship between Amanda and Quinn is developed at an unhurried and convincing pace. The two ladies are very well-developed characters and we really get to know them well. Plus, couple of smoking hot sex scenes. 


But there are a couple of things that weren’t particularly understandable. First, Amanda repeatedly sleeping with Mel and agreeing to meet her for a date all the while loudly protesting that she doesn’t want them to get back together. Didn’t compute. (For the record, Mel seems to be a jerk with her wives. But a mom she seems to have a good relationship with the kids and also seems to be someone the children can count on in times of emergency.) 


The second thing we didn’t quite get was – why exactly did Quinn want a break? Mel made a grand gesture that Amanda rejected. Amanda goes to Quinn post that fiasco…and Quinn asks for space? Huh? There’s lots of mature dialogue but we like are romances to be, well, romantic. More feeling, less thought. 


Keira Grace has a lovely voice and does a great job with the nine-plus hours. But there were times when we wished we’d read the book instead of listening to it – we’d have like to hear voices, intonations and emotions from our imagination in this one. We’d probably have got more involved into it them. Guess we are hardcore readers, after all.

⭐⭐⭐★

Wild Things by Karin Kallmaker, Narrated by Abby Craden (Audiobook)


⭐⭐⭐⭐★

Review-lite

…because…this is a lesfic classic


  • First published in the 1990s, this book undoubtedly started off as a Xena fanfic – but has nothing really to do with the serial. It would’ve been an uber fic.
  • Like Denial from around the same time and probably with the same Xena-fanfic genesis, this has one MC (Faith) involved with the other MC’s (Sydney) brother
  • Like many books of that time, this has the two MCs struggling against their attraction towards each other
  • Struggles with owning one’s sexuality – a mid-thirties coming of age story
  • Big role of religion and homophobic parents contextualize and capture the period perfectly
  • We somehow find that the books written is the 1990s are incredibly emotionally passionate – the angst, the feelings, the struggles, the rampant emotions – all so passionate and immersive
  • The angst!
  • Great characterisation
  • We adore (read that in all caps) Faith Fitzgerald 
  • Abby Craden. Nothing more to be said there. Except…no one whispers as seductively as she does.
⭐⭐⭐⭐★



Tease by Sarah Sanders



⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Review-lite
because
  • Sizzling sex
  • Madly appealing MCs
  • Great chemistry
  • Lovely relationship
  • Bonus: a brief appearance of one of our character-loves: Radhika from Jump then Fall
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  
      




The Big Tow: An Unlikely Romance by Ann McMan

 

⭐⭐⭐⭐★

This crime-com is such a zany, fun, irreverent ride of entertainment that we’re totally signing up for the next instalment. Think: the absurd, fun impossibility of Ruthless People marrying the stylish heists of If Tomorrow Comes and here is the child of that union. 

Synopsis-wise, the blurb is perfect, so we’re just going with it here.

Welcome to the National Recovery Bureau, where your assets are as sacred as God’s holy word.”

Vera “Nick” Nicholson is an overtaxed and underpaid attorney wasting away on the bottom rung of the gilded ladder at Turner, Witherspoon, Anders, and Tyler, PA in Winston-Salem, NC. When a high-priced luxury car belonging to one of the firm’s top clients goes missing, Nick gets saddled with the unenviable job of recovering the vehicle—and its mysterious contents—without involving the cops. Enter Fast Eddie and his quirky band of misfits at The National Recovery Bureau, a repo agency located in a sleepy town called K-Vegas.

When Nick is unceremoniously furloughed from TWAT, she throws caution to the wind and signs on to become the newest agent of the NRB, teaming up with moonlighting third-grade schoolteacher, Frances “Frankie” Stohler. Frankie’s mortician father and beautician mother are stalwarts of the Winston-Salem community—so it’s no surprise that everyone across three counties has some connection to her family. What is surprising, however, is the Slim Jim Frankie carries in her purse and her preternatural talent for jacking cars.

Nick and Frankie’s stumbling entrĂ©e into the surreal world of asset recovery takes them on a hilarious, fast-paced and mind-bending journey across the back roads and byways of the Tar Heel state, setting into motion a chain of misadventures that lead them both toward financial independence, cataclysmic legal jeopardy, and the discovery that true love can sometimes lurk in the most unlikely places.


But the real magic is in the writing and the bunch of wacky characters. Much like McMan’s Jericho, there are a large number of excellently developed secondary characters in this one too. Our top favourites are Antigone, Carol Jenkins and Frankie’s Hermoine-like purse. 

Frankie (small sigh) is awesome. So awesome. Bright, peppy, enthusiastic, enterprising, funny…sexy. We so love her response to vague statements:


“I think want to kiss you.” 

“When will you be sure?”


And


…I’d think you were flirting with me.”

“You mean you’re not sure? I must not be doing it right.”


Nick is the opposite of Frankie. A Negative Nervous Nelly and quite a downer in the whole proceeding. The book is written in first person from Nick’s PoV, so there way too much of her, but everything and everyone else is just so great that Nick was rescued and she also floated on the high fun-crest of this delightful book.

There is attraction between Frankie and Nick, but the romance is woven into the narrative rather than the narrative being woven around the romance. And it works perfectly. 

This is most definitely amongst the ten funniest sit-com books we’ve read and in the top three crime-coms. 

⭐⭐⭐⭐★





The Secret Ingredient by KD Fisher



Review-lite

…because… 

 


We’ve noticed a trend in romances that disturbs us.


One of the characters behaves in ways that border (or even cross over into) abusiveness. In lesfic, this is mostly emotional and/or verbal abuse. (Ghosting comes under emotional and/or psychological abuse.) The abusive behaviour is justified by portraying the person as an Ice Queen or attributing their behaviour to past baggage. This person is pretty normal in all their relationships – except with the romantic interest. 


Usually the other lead is a beautiful person. Open, loving, giving, accepting, mature, honest, sexy. They overcome their own issues, make themselves vulnerable and go out on the limb for love. 


The disturbing part in the dynamic of these two typical MCs is that the one behaving like an asshole seldom ever takes corrective actions or apologises. The person who is loving and know how to love, care and be in a relationship bends over backwards to have a relationship at all. She becomes all about appeasement and takes on the full emotional burden of the relationship.


When this is how a relationship starts it sets the template for the interaction between the couple for the future. And this kind of template for the future marks an awful partnership.


We find this particularly disturbing because frequent use of this kind of dynamic by multiple authors normalizes this behaviour. It sends subtle messaging and makes emotional, verbal and psychological abuse acceptable. Worse, it makes people believe that if they do not accept such behaviour and make good with the abuser, they fail.


We sincerely hope that authors desist from writing MCs behaving like assholes without facing serious repercussions for such behaviour. Yes, they do deserve a second chance, but only if they realise that their behaviour is unforgivable, they correct and change their behaviour and most importantly, they apologise and make good with the other leading lady.


The Girlfriend Sweater by Jenny Parker

 


⭐⭐⭐✩

This is a small town romance with two rather sweet MCs.

Eva was involved with a rather flamboyant cheater in the past. She's out of that relationship but not quite looking to get involved again. She's passionate about knitting, watches it and also works in her friend's yarn shop.

Katie is a lawyer. After completing her studies in San Francisco, she moved to St Bridget since a smaller town appealed to her more than a bustling city. She dreamt of practicing family law and making a real difference to people's lives but is stuck with a nightmarish boss aiming to make as much moolah as her can at any cost.

On a whim, Katie joins a just-about-to-start knitting class. The class brings a possible new friend and also possible/ maybe romance into the shy lawyer's life. Except that her boss' new questionable suit may derail Katie's hope of staying in St. Bridget.

This is a sweet, easy, fluffy read with very appealing leading ladies. Minor angst that's quickly resolved, solid supporting cast, realistic incidents and a fairly possible storyline add to the likeablilty factor.

⭐⭐⭐✩

It's in Her Kiss by Rachel Lacey

 



⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sophie Rindell and Julia Vega are struggling Broadway actresses. They meet while auditioning for the same role. The role is of the leading lady, Bianca, a dream for both of them. After the audition, Sophie invites Jules to hang out with her and her friends and Jules accepts.

Sophie is out and undeniably attracted to Jules. Jules is curious but hasn't taken any action on her possible attraction towards woman. 

Both get a call back, but while Jules is cast as Bianca, Sophie is part of the ensemble and an understudy for the two main leads. As the rehearsals progress, Jules and Sophie's relationship also progresses. But both carry their own baggage that interferes with their relationship.

This book is equally story driven and character driven and really scores high on the characters-driven aspect. Jules and Sophie are complete human beings with positives and negatives. With ambitions and fears. With hopes and dreams. With multiple aspects and dimensions. 

Lacey does a brilliant job with keeping all actions of each of them in the perfect trajectory of their character. All their actions are understandable since we get to know their drivers so well.

Jules, with her softness, vulnerability and awareness is a tad higher on the appealing quotient. Even when she messes up due to being in the closet, she is quick to realise it and apologise. Sophie is much more confident, a little more aggressive and explicably (because of past experience) self-protective. Yet she reaches beyond her fears and frustrations, which is so admirable.

We were totally drawn into the story and into the characters. This book was a wonderful read and we wholeheartedly recommend it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐★q

Presidential by Lola Keeley



⭐⭐

This is a rather unabashed retelling (fanfic?) of an old movie. The only difference is that the movie had a heterosexual couple and in this one the president is bisexual.


Emily Lawrence is an environmental lobbyist. In an unscheduled TV appearance, she calls out the incumbent president, Constance (Connie) Calvin on her lack of action on environmental issues. Connie, the first woman president, mother of a 12-year-old, is trying hard to juggle the world and keep it steady. 


We really wish we were inspired or even involved enough by the story to write more of a synopsis for this one, but really there's not much there.


Both the MCs are likeable. There are sweet incidents. But really, there seemed to be better chemistry (of the non-sexual variety) between Emily and Connie's son, Zachary. The one thing really going for the book is that it is well written. And that we really liked Emily.


As a book about the first female president, 46 by Lynn Ames was way better. 


⭐⭐

The Unexpected Dream by Nicole Pyland


Review-lite

...because we dropped it like a hot potato



  • Mia is someone we really liked immediately 


  • In practically her first scene, Skylar is being self-centred, selfish and mean to her absolutely love girlfriend of two years. She compounds her despicable behaviour with jealousy and uncaring.


  • Existential Question: We like Mia but hate Skylar with a passion...should we waste time reading this one further?


  • Follow-up Question: Do we like Mia enough to tolerate Skylar?


  • Mia does deserve love, romance and happiness, but it will be with Skylar. And we hate the thought of Mia being saddled with her as a partner. Ergo: Abandon asap.

Unforgettable by Rebekah Blackmore


⭐⭐⭐

Katie Williamson is an art teacher who takes on painting gigs. She is invited by a local animal shelter to discuss painting murals. At the shelter, Katie runs into Taylor McCullough, her ex. Both realise that the past is not yet over for them.


Katie and Taylor are both likeable women. The relationship between them in the past seems to be deep and develops at a slow, tentative pace in the present. The is a realistic quality to Taylor's fears and Katie's longing for Taylor. 


Katie's decisions in the past may not have been the most mature or even very caring, but you can completely understand her. And that is the most impressive thing in the book: you can understand both the omen perfectly and empathise with their actions totally.

This is a low intensity, low angst book which is a fairly okay read. 

⭐⭐⭐



Confessions of a Dreamer by Kenna White



⭐⭐☆

Ros McClure works in the internal audit department of a university. She is a shoo-in for the top position when her boss retires but is bypassed. It doesn't sit well with her, particularly since her new boss is clueless about the work. As she is dealing with this setback in her life, she gets the news that her aunt, Bonnie, has been hospitalised. She flies back home and realises that Bonnie is being taken care of by Stacy Hagen, Ros' erstwhile biology teacher and high school crush.

Bonnie's ill-health, a class reunion and other things align for Ros to return back and be with her aunt for a while. Ros realises that despite twenty-five years having passed, she is still attracted to Stacy. And this time, it looks like her interest is returned.

This book had so much potential which has not been realised. Ros and Stacy, it turns out were always into each other. Because of the whole teacher-student relationship Stacy chose to tamp the attraction. This itself gives an opening for so much delicious burn when they are in each other's orbit after two and a half decades. There was so much possibility for great chemistry. But this is entirely missed -- and that hurts because we could actually read the book as it could've been. 

We also feel that if Ros' diary had been used differently in the narrative -- interspersing it and building the feeling throughout the narrative would probably have made the romance more tingly and butterfly-y. As it is narrated, there doesn't seem enough depth in the relationship for the finale.

We're not sure about Ros' pragmatism with her aunt. Bonnie is the person who gave Ros a home and unconditional support and love. Yet when her health is nosediving, Ros seems to be perfectly fine leaving someone else to take care of her instead of actually making any effort to be there for Bonnie. How?

Stacy, as a person, is unreal. She is constantly looking after endless people on a pro bono basis and yet she doesn't come across as particularly nice or kind -- she just comes across as impossible. And then there is her weird, intrusive behaviour with regards to Ros' old diary. 

This one is a lost opportunity of being a great book.

⭐⭐☆

Starting Over by Carol Wyatt


⭐☆

This one is an age gap, rich girl poor girl, celebrity (more like semi-brity) romance.

The main players of the story:

Alexandria Ryder: a relationship expert, a published author and a closeted lesbian.

Blake: Alex's beard, a soccer player who is also in the closet. 

Payton: a waitress who is also a covert paparazzo 

Payton sees Alex in the bar of the restaurant she works in and is immediately attracted. Alex has a meal with Blake and when they leave, Payton follows them, discovers that Blake seems to be involved with another man. The next day, on one of her covertly clicking celebrities outing at a hiking trail, Payton sees Alex readying for a run, follows her, sprains her ankle and has Alex looking after her. There is attraction and their relationship starts.

Blake wants to come out and even as she encourages him, Alex is in a bad place worrying about the impact on her career. At the same time, her relationship with Payton grows.

Despite all the drama in the events of this book, this is exhaustingly mediocre filled with people without any personality, stilted dialogue, behaviours that don't flow with the characterisations or narrative and most tragically, an utter lack of chemistry. 

Really, for someone so worried about her career, we cannot imagine why Alex would spill her life story and confide her sexuality to a woman (Payton), a complete stranger who she literally picked up on a hiking trail, in their very first interaction.

This is a book that makes us want to demand our time spent on it back.

⭐☆

Blind Date by Christine L'Amour



Review-lite

...because there is nothing to it

  • Shallow characterisations

  • Unconvincing relationship 

  • Mediocre writing

  • Savannah, a model, is set up on a date by her brother. The date turns out to be with a woman. Kayla, her brother's colleague. Savannah has a great time with Kayla and they meet again. Before she knows it, Savannah is in the midst of a highly sexual relationship with Kayla and then of course, they're I love. A brief conflict, quick resolution; Savannah's career taking off and happily ever after.


  • Honestly, why do we even bother reading these formulistic, poorly written books? The only thing going for it is that it is a pocket packet -- so it is short.

Let the Beat Drop by Cheri Ritz


⭐⭐⭐☆

Sadie DuChamp's fledgling rock career comes to. Grinding halt when the bank breaks up in a flurry of bad blood. In the aftermath of an awful relationship and the band going bust, Sadie returns home. She is assailed with guilt that she's not been home more or taken care of her mom after her father passed away a few months back. Sadie's mother is in the grip of depression and Sadie decides to spend a year with her before embarking on anything new. 

A group of Sadie's mother's friends drop by for a regular coupon-exchange and chat session and led when Sadie starts playing her drums, led by one of the women Marley Moran, the group ends up having an impromptu jam session. Sadie is delighted to see her mother joining in and thinks that music is the way to help her mom back. She floats the idea of the group performing and Marley is happy to create an opportunity at her annual party.

Marley is in the business of manufacturing vodka. Her daughter, Jessica, a couple of years older than Sadie is studying business and keen on joining her mother's business as soon as she finishes studies. Home for the holidays, Jess is a little discomfited by the new development viz. her mom performing in public with a band and she is also madly attracted to the woman creating this turbulence, viz. Sadie.

This is a very well written book. While the romance is front and centre the relationships of both the girls with their mothers also are important threads. Characterisations of every single person, including those making very brief appearances, are so well done that you can practically see everyone.

Sadie and Jess are very likeable. This is a new adult book, which means both the women are in a transitory phase between teen and adult. So they have the teen ability to love and forgive. Despite Jess' blow-hot-blow-cold behaviour, Sadie is able to be totally into her. Both of them want to be responsible and take care of their mothers but are a little clueless, a little too young and a little ham-handed in how they do it. All this just makes it all so real and both of them endearing. Kudos to Ritz for the way she's written Sadie and Jess keeping them so perfectly in character. 

We really enjoyed this one.

⭐⭐⭐☆

The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen

⭐⭐⭐☆
A very well written and engaging teen story.

Alison Green dreams of being the valedictorian. Nerdy, socially awkward, a little emotionally clueless, gay (out to her parents, sister and best friend), Alison is really every girl. She harbours a secret crush on Charlotte, a super cool girl but cannot imagine doing anything about it. Her best friend, Becca, has a crush on Alison's friend, Jack, and is always tongue-tied in his presence. 

Without meaning to, Alison finds herself the producer of the school play -- a role she's wildly incapable of handling. 

The story is about Alison's action packed school year.

The writing is just so easy, funny and engaging that reading this is so much fun. Twitterpated -- its been a decade since we've seen an author use this delightful word.

Alison is a real person who makes mistakes, creates messes, hurts people, apologises, has some level of self-awareness -- just a complete human being. We love the whole show-not-tell way the characters, their strengths and failings and their growth is written. 

There is not a single character that we didn't like -- Becca, Annie (Alison's sister), and one really tertiary character, Jenny -- particularly stand out. The romance between Alison and Charlotte has some cute moments, but it's not like there is any major focus on it. 

This is a super-light, breezy, extremely entertaining read.

⭐⭐⭐☆

Lix 2: New York Underground by Emily Hayes


⭐⭐

This is the second instalment of the story of How Lauren Became a Submissive. Considering that this and the previous book are mostly erotica, it is not exactly necessary to have read the first book to read this one.

Lauren, the gorgeous femme, and her girlfriend, Quinn, the butch stud owner of an erotic club for ladies in LA, Lix; decide to go on a holiday to New York. So they have sex. They research erotic clubs in NY. Have sex. Go to NY. Have sex. Go to a club, get a joint lap dance, have sex. Go to a party for ladies. Have exhibitionist sex. Go shopping for fetish clothes. Have sex. Go to an erotic club. Have a threesome. 

And just when it seemed like there would be nothing more to this book than sex, post the threesome, Lauren has conflicting emotions including sadness and the two have something of a fight. Then they go to a workshop for Kinky Lesbian Relationships and get educated on a concept called sub drop. 

Then, of course, they have some more sex before going back to LA.

Lauren is altogether too bouncy and excited about sex, Quinn, kink and being a sub. We understand that Hayes probably wrote Lauren's over excitement about being a sub to ensure that no one has any doubts about her willingness (eagerness, more like it) to be in this role. To drive home the point that Lauren is doing it because she wants to do it. But really, it smacked too false. Also, isn't Lauren in her thirties or something? (We know Quinn is almost fifty.) So all that bouncing and squealing?

Most dialogues are stilted. Some of the sex is hot. On the sex level, there is vanilla sex, dildo, exhibitionism, voyeurism, mild spanking and a threesome.

Quinn remains not particularly likeable despite Hayes' best efforts.

The most real and engaging moments in the book are when Lauren struggles to reconcile the fact that she is a strong, independent woman with the fact she is Quinn's willing sub. When Lauren worries about how this dynamic during sex will impact her personality. Lauren after the threesome and her feelings about Quinn at that point were what made this book a notch above just plain erotica and earned its stars.

In the hyper-local niche of lesbian erotica, this is one of the better ones.

⭐⭐⭐

Something Far Away and Happy by Bryce Oakley


⭐⭐⭐
College romance; heartbreak; a decade thence. 

Julia Evans was completely swept away by the dashing Remington Van Der Meer when they were both studying in McManus College. Julia was pre-med and Remington was on her way to join MIT for MBA. Remington asks Julia to go to Boston with her and Julia agrees. As she is packing, Julia receives an email ostensibly from Remington with a link to an article about Remington's engagement to a woman who is definitely not Julia.

Ten years later, Julia is an interior decorator and has been offered a meeting with a hermit-like fresh divorcee living hidden in the mountains to redo their entire house. The meeting was set up by the hermit's assistant, but it is still a big enough job for Julia to make the trip. 

What Julia doesn't expect is that the new divorcee will be her Remington, still as attractive as ever. Or that their chemistry will still be bubbling like a decade back. Or that Remington feels that Julia had cheated on her all those years back.

Julia and Remington are both nice enough. We liked Julia more between the two, though there's a lot of sweetness in Remington too. The whole past break up was a tad too convoluted. We were rather disappointed with the lack of any real moving angst about the past in both when they first re-meet. The fact they don't address the past immediately was also surprising.

We always want to like Bryce Oakley's books more than we actually do. We're usually let down and left feeling that the relationships she writes don't have depth and that emotions are not fully developed. Everything falls just a little short for us.

This is a middling book with a couple of fun dialogues, a couple of fairly good sex scenes, fairly likeable MCs and maybe a couple of good supporting characters.

⭐⭐⭐

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

The context: Multiverse, a way to hop between the different Earths and world walkers.

Cara is a world traverser. She is one of the few people on Earth Zero who goes from one Earth to another collecting information and data. There are 382 Earths and a person can be a traverser if they do not exist on most of the other Earths. Cara exists on only seven other Earths. 

Each Earth is populated by the same people as Cara's and have the same past but a different present. 

Cara is a little bit reckless. A little bit of a rebel. And a whole lot attracted to and interested in her watcher, Dell. Cold, distant, indifferent Dell. Cara's been flirting with Dell for five years but is constantly met by the same wall.

The other people in Cara's life are her sister, Esther; her mentor, Jean; the man who invented the technology to traverse, Adam; the emperor of the rough land beyond the rich Wiley City, Nik Nik and a clutch of other minor (but not unimportant) characters.

Each Earth is in the same band of miserable with slight differences in the degree of miserableness, yet the book is not depressing. It is an action and emotion packed story with unexpected twists and turns.

Though there is a brief mention of the Middle East, all action remains contained in the world created by the writer consisting of the rich Wiley City, the rough Ashtown and the Rurals beyond Ashtown.

The world building is good and the character-across-Earths creation with regard to Cara and Adam is incredible. The writing is beautiful.

Cara is a strong, well rounded character. She is a great protagonist. However, Esther, in a much smaller appearance captured our admiration. And Dell, in an even smaller page presence, stole our heart. She is incredible in her strength, intelligence and above all in her loving. Major character crush on Dell happening here.

The ending is a little open ended but we believe that it is a HEA for Cara and Dell.

Definitely recommended.

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

Heart of Ice by T. B. Markinson and Miranda Macleod

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

Laurie Emerson is codenamed Laurie the Hatchet in the world of finance for her notorious ruthlessness. Laurie and her wife Bonnie were co-founders of one of the topmost financial advisory firms and their shared office was called the Shark Tank. When Bonnie's tumour was diagnosed with inoperable, she booked Laurie for a year in a high-end resort and handed the reins of the company to her son, Toby.


Laurie returns a little under a year during which the company has been nosediving under mismanagement. But Laurie has a lead that could completely turn the company around and make it a top player again. The lead is inside information that Silvio Othonos, an elusive Greek billionaire, is looking for a firm to manage his investments. Laurie's vigour is roadblocked by Toby who has jetted off across the Atlantic trying to jump the gun and meet with Othonos without a plan in place.


Undeterred, Laurie decides to make a team out of the available resources and create a solid proposal for the billionaire.


Jacqueline (Jack) Kennedy is a hardworking portfolio manager with Emersons. As a woman in a man's world she is overlooked and on the receiving end of entitled masculine behaviour. Not being an Ivy Leaguer also puts her on something of a back foot. Having joined after Laurie had left for her sabbatical, Jack knows Laurie only by reputation. So, when she is the only portfolio manager on the floor and becomes part of Laurie's team, she's quite pleased and is looking forward to the meeting the next day.


A snowed in evening, an Irish pub, a hot woman and amazing sex -- only to realise that the hot woman of the previous evening was Laurie / Jack i.e. boss / subordinate. Both decide to forget their evening together and keep it professional. Except that the chemistry keeps boiling over throwing emotions all over the map.


Laurie and Jack are superbly crafted characters. Laurie does keep slipping into being a version of Miranda Priestly but is also not Miranda Priestly often enough. Come to think of it, such fluctuations would actually leave a person with whiplash. But Jack works with her mercurial boss with fortitude. Realistically, Jack does have misgivings about working with Laurie and her impossible behaviour. 


Though older than Jack by 20 years, Laurie is clearly the immature one between the two. Jack is never without spine. Yes, Laurie is demanding and impossible but Jack never comes across as a doormat or pushover.


Jack's kooky mother and her story is a smile inducing twist.


The chemistry between Jack and Laurie is fantastic. And the grand-gesture love confession is perfect for die-hard romantics. 


The book captures you from the very start and keeps you totally engrossed for its entirety. Markinson and Macleod are a winning combination. Their collaboration brings to us the most romantic and adorable book.


Definitely recommended.

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

Everything We Never Wanted by Sienna Waters


⭐⭐⭐☆★

Alex Blakely has wanderlust. All she wants to do is travel, do small jobs whenever she needs the money while travelling and then travel some more. But suddenly her life changes and she becomes responsible for a sweet seven-year-old, Libby. Libby is Alex’s niece and though Alex and her sister, Claire, weren’t exactly close, Alex is Libby’s only living relative.

 Kat Stein is an elementary school teacher in charge of the second grade. She is passionate about teaching. All Kat ever really wanted was a wife, a child, a stable home and to teach. She had it all till a year ago when her wife divorced her accusing Kat of being ‘boring’ and Kat lost everything including her home. The only thing that she still has is her teaching. With dire financial straits, it seems like Kat may need to rethink even her beloved job.

The two diametrically opposite personalities somehow mesh together perfectly till things need to get more real.

Waters does a fabulous job creating the circumstances of Alex and Kat in the beginning. You feel them totally. You get their mindspace perfectly. Alex’s character arc through the story is extremely well done.

We liked Kat instantaneously and felt very strongly for her and have a huge problem with her being branded ‘boring’ repeatedly, especially way too often by herself. Even the ways she tries to ‘change’ herself makes you feel rather sad. We also thought she was a little too giving and forgiving – which can actually be explained by her very low self-esteem.

The relationship between the MCs is surprising in the sense the emotional connect is there but the chemistry is tepid.

 This is a fairly quick, okay read.

⭐⭐⭐☆★

Two Hexes Are Better Than One: A Lesbian Cozy Mystery by Zoe Spell

⭐⭐⭐


Review-lite
…because…

  • This is nice, as in the not-too-exciting but inoffensive and unmemorable meaning of the descriptor: nice
  • Has a very strong start i.e. good creating of the crime and the accused
  • Plus: plenty of red herrings
  • Minus: Inexplicable behaviours and unexplained events
  • Plus: Waiting-to-grow attraction between MC Rowena and her high school crush, Noelle, that promises to become more interesting as the series continues
  • Minus: Tension of solving a murder distinctly missing
  • Plus: Interestingly developed characters: Rowena, Evelyn and Debbie (the most interesting of the three)
  • Minus: Doesn’t grab interest and hold you there

⭐⭐⭐

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Matters of the Heart
The Shark
Then & Now
Irresistible
Just Married?
Give Me a Reason
Dare to Stay
Peppermint Kiss
Eyes Like Those
Love Like This
Blood and Roses
The Arrangement
Princess of Dorsa
Marriage of Unconvenience
The Lucky Ones
Bliss
Off Screen
Reality Check
Far from Home
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